Q Media: Audio Tour Experts

Delivering your goals, to your visitors, within your budget.

Archive for AUDIO TOURS

Q Media in Rome!

We realize we haven’t updated our blog since September.  Many things have happened since then and we’d like to share with you what they have been and what we’ve been up to.

First off October 2011 found Mike and Stasha attending the Orpheo Partners Meeting in Rome, Italy. Q Media is an Orpheo partner and every two years Orpheo invites their partners from around the world to attend a meeting to catch up on what’s new with Orpheo and each other. This year’s meeting in Rome had attendees from Italy, Hungary, Russia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, France, Austria, Japan, Malta, Poland, Sardinia, Greece and Portugal. It was great to see folks we hadn’t seen in a few years and hear what other members of the Orpheo Network are doing with audio tours in their countries.  One great aspect of being an Orpheo Partner is that we are involved with a world-wide network of skilled, experienced audio tour producers and our combined strengths allow us all to prosper by assisting each other.  When you hire Q Media you don’t just get a team of award-winning audio tour producers with 10 years experience producing tours: you also get the benefit of many others who assist us in many ways in producing and equipping audio tours.

Besides the experience of traveling to Europe and seeing our partner members we also found out what Orpheo has been up to with developing their equipment. One of the exciting new things we learned about was the MyOrpheo App for both iPhone and Android. We’re now adding that as an option for our clients.

As for Q Media projects the end of last year and the beginning of this one have been busy times for us. We completed the audio tour pilot program for apartment rental industry leader Aimco and Q Media produced tours are now operating at apartment complexes in Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Also a project for The Kingsley Plantation in Jacksonville, FL is soon to be launched. This project was written and produced by Q Media and is being offered on iPhones that will be GPS triggered. One of the exciting aspects about this tour is that the visitor will always be immersed into a sonic environment and the audio tour stops will trigger automatically as they wander the grounds. A new, novel approach for tours and we’re really excited to be a part of this new application of technology.  But it isn’t all ‘sets and lights’.  The Kingsley Plantation allowed us to tell a story of slavery in the American South that is compelling, moving and novel.  We’re really proud of this one and the telling of the Kingsley story allowed us to touch upon greater human themes.  There are some wonderful performances from character actors in the production that really help to bring a sense of the people who lived there to the listener to allow them to imagine what life at Kingsley was like for them.

We’ve also been busy continuing to produce visually described audio tours for the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers.  More Q Media visually described tours are now operational at facilities in Wyoming, New Mexico, New York City and Missouri.

This winter also had us updating the MillerCoors Brewery tour in Golden, CO in English, Spanish and Mandarin.  MillerCoors likes to be sure that they are staying current in their tour with developments and improvements to their facility and products and Q Media is happy to be a part of making the audio tour at the largest single site brewery in the world the best it can be.

For other repeat clients we’re busy this Spring producing the audio tour for Mt. Rushmore into French to be launched and we’re also working again with Friends of A1A to add another component to their cell phone driving tour with a tour of Bird Island in Ponte Vedra, FL

Lastly there’s BIG news coming from Q Media and we’ll need to let you know about that in another post dedicated to it.  We promise we won’t make you wait as long as it took up to update our blog from our last post in September and we’re REALLY excited about it.

Until then!

Mike and Stasha

It’s been a busy year so far for Q Media!

Hello Q Media blog readers. So far its been quite a year for us and we’d like to keep you updated on what we’ve been doing.

Q Media has been working with US Fish and Wildlife and National Park Service facilities all over the US this year doing Audio Described Audio Tours for the Visually Impaired. From New Mexico to New York, Texas to North Dakota we have been traveling the land producing tours. Some of these tours are strictly audio described tours and others are what we call ‘Combo’ tours – two separately produced tours that can be taken by both sighted and visually impaired visitors. You can find out more about this in our previous post ‘Audio Tours for the Visually Impaired’.

We’ve also branched out on providing audio tours for a new industry for us – apartment complexes. Q Media has been hired to produce seven audio tours for seven different properties throughout the US as a pilot program to see if the apartment leasing sales process can be augmented with audio tours. From what we know this is a new application for audio tours and a type of facility that we haven’t produced tours for in the past. The apartment complexes are in Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco and the tours are cell phone distributed.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed with this one and hope that it takes off – a whole new market could be opening up for us and we’re excited about the possibilities.

Lastly we are going to attend the Orpheo Partners meeting this year in Rome, Italy. Partners attend from all over the world and we’re excited to see some friends whom we haven’t seen in years.  It’s always good to hear what other Orpheo Partners are doing in their countries!

Well that’s about it for now and a big thank you to all of the writers, voice over talent and technicians who have worked with us on projects this year – we couldn’t do what we do without you!   Here’s hoping that you are also doing well too.  We are thankful to be so busy in these economic times and we love what do, treasure the opportunities to go to new places and enjoy who we meet along the way in our pursuit to provide stellar audio tour experiences for our clients and their visitors.

Ciao!

Mike and Stasha

Knowing how to swing a hammer doesn’t make you a psychologist…

                                 Hammer                  We recently lost a bid to a competitor. After asking for feedback why so we could be better in the future , criticism was offered and was fair and was provided with the utmost respect and objectivity. The feedback we received regarding why we didn’t get the project was the tour sample we sent (the one closest in subject matter to the project we were bidding on) didn’t reflect their perceptions of how they envisioned the creative direction for their audio tour. Fair enough; but I wanted to add something I thought was missing from the equation when they evaluated our sample: the fact that we produced that tour in collaboration with that client. That tour reflected the vision of the previous client; it is what they wanted and achieves what they wanted to say. It delivers the goals they defined for how they wanted their visitors to interact with their space. Not to say it’s perfect – I can think of small things in any tour we’ve produced that afterwards I thought a change could improve – but the point is that working closely with the client was how that tour came to be. If we had won this recent proposal, we would have pursued the same spirit of collaboration with our new client because that is how we operate with ALL of our clients. At the end of the day, it is their vision and goals that need to be communicated through the audio tour. Of course we offer our learned perspective based on our experience and know-how, but in the end, the client is always right and we produce the tour they want.

And that brings me to the weird title of this post. Being able to drive a nail doesn’t mean you can build a house, or coordinate effectively with all the other folks needed to achieve that complicated goal. And like construction, skill sets need to be available for many aspects of audio tour production. Working with the people aspect — the group dynamics, the creative team, the psychology, if you will — of how a tour comes together is, indeed, the best thing that we know we bring to any project. Is the staff at the facility on the same page when it comes to the approach and content? If not, who brings about the cohesion to make that happen? Are the goals being defined and refined to meet what the theme of what the tour should be? Who facilitates the compromises when there are different viewpoints? Is there good working chemistry between the front-end creative team (writer, producer, and director) and the experts assigned to the project by the facility? If not, how can this be overcome and adapted to bring about excellence?

These factors are just some of the challenges that need to be addressed and they change each time we produce a tour. So in the future, we suggest that when you evaluate a proposal, or a bid, don’t simply ask yourself if the tour sample is similar in style or tone to what you want. Call and ask the previous client if the tour sample reflects what they wanted. Find out if the production team brought something to the table that improved on the vision they had at the start. Ask if the production process created a better outcome than they started with. That’s the key to producing a good audio tour – listening to the client and delivering the result they want.

Q Media GPS GeoTours

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August 23, 2009 – Q Media has launched a new service offering downloadable GPS audio tours for GPS devices.  GPS devices are becoming a great way for outdoor facilities large and small to offer audio tours to their visitors.  Up to now most choices to provide a GPS tour were based on purchasing expensive hardware that also needed to be distributed to your visitors as well as maintained.  But now with a Q Media GeoTour there’s no need to purchase, distribute or maintain any GPS audio tour equipment to provide a GPS tour:  Visitors download the tour into their own GPS devices such as Garmin or Tom-Tom and then use them to experience the tour.  The tours can also be downloaded to an Ipod or mp3 player, can include pictures and video and be made available for sale too.

“This is a great way for our clients to take advantage of emerging technologies,” said Mike Lutz Vice-President and Technical Director at Q Media. “There are many outdoor locations where traditional audio guide hardware or cell phones aren’t an option because of distribution issues or cell reception.  A Q Media GeoTour can now allow for tours where before it wasn’t easily viable to do so.  Outdoor parks, driving tours, city walking tours – any type of tour that takes place outdoors at the visitor’s own choosing and pace – can all easily be made into a Q Media GeoTour”. 

So for example, let us say Q Media is hired to produce a walking tour of New York City’s Theater District.  After the content for the tour is produced, Q Media would provide the outlet for the tour to the public as a Q Media GeoTour on its website and the visitor would only need to choose the device they want for the download to operate on.  No equipment is necessary for the visitor to sign out and return and the tour stops play automatically when the visitor reaches the programmed GPS waypoints.  

To see an example of a Q Media GeoTour please go to the GPS Tours page on the Q Media website and scroll down to the bottom to see the Q Media produced “Kansas Wetlands and Wildlife” driving tour of Barton County, KS.  In the example there you can read a summary of the tour, see a map of the route, preview the audio files and download the tour into a chosen device (with instructions).  Visitors can also rate the tour and leave comments.

If you have been interested in producing and distributing a GPS based audio tour the time has arrived!  Prices to host a Q Media GeoTour tour start at $89/month for non-Q Media clients and the service is free for any Q Media production client who wishes to have it.  For more information on how Q Media can produce and provide a GPS Audio Tour GeoTour for you please contact Stasha Boyd of Q Media Productions at stasha@qmediaproductions.com.

Revenue Share Audio Tours

MPj04331180000[1]The first half of year 2009 has been tough. Donations, sponsorships, attendance are all down, down, down. Across the board our clients tell us they are getting hit in the pocketbook by things over which they have little or no control. “What we have to do is bring in more money without spending our cash reserves.” Exactly. Which is why if you don’t already have a revenue share audio tour with Q Media, then I highly suggest you give us a call.

Most organizations are familiar with a standard revenue share arrangement–the vendor covers most or all of the up front costs including hardware and production; the client provides the marketing and promotion, then the earned revenue is shared between the parties. What most museums are not aware of is that Q Media is different; first, we offer this option to organizations that are considered too small by our competitors. The larger audio tour providers cannot offer this valuable service to small to medium sized museums because the return is not considered large enough to cover their overhead. Second, our service is truly shared risk/shared reward. Q Media takes into account large scale disruptions, i.e. hurricanes, that grossly affect your attendance. Last, but certainly not least, Q Media’s productions enhance your visitor’s experience at your museum and add to your ability to tell your story. Our primary talent, focus and purpose is to effectively deliver your message to your visitors.

Let us help you increase your revenue. Seven years ago, Mike and I started Q Media because we were committed to serving our clients and we’re proud to say we’ve succeeded — in good times and bad. Please, give us a call and let’s see what we can do together.

Audio tours in these economic times – By Mike Lutz

An audio tour can help in these economic times.

Fantasy of FlightIn these times many institutions that have the desire to offer an audio tour to their visitors may now have budget shortfalls and face decisions on how to move forward. There are many factors in how and when to spend limited resources and an audio tour may now be considered unattainable, so Q Media wants to offer perspective on why audio tours can help in these times: We believe audio tours can be of assistance as a good way to generate revenue, cut staffing costs, and better the creative offerings of any facility.

1. Audio tours have historically offered revenue enhancement. Many facilities use audio tours to enhance revenue and traditional audio guides have been the easiest way to allow for point of purchase audio tour sales. Some other approaches like re-purposing your tour as a downloadable tour for sale from the internet can also increase revenue.

2. Q Media offers a “no-cost” revenue share option. We understand that the cost of producing and equipping a tour may be considered cost prohibitive but if your facility qualifies Q Media is ready to work in conjunction with you to offer your audio tour as an on-going revenue share.

3. Q Media offers “how to” workshops for organizations that are looking at budget shortfalls and have decided to produce an audio tour in-house. Q Media has worked with organizations who saved money by incorporating in-house personnel for key creative roles and through our workshops we can teach your staff to produce audio tours on-time and on-budget.

4. Audio Tours are a great way to standardize your message. Many times a message can be changed in its repeating. One great advantage audio tours have is that once a tour is produced that message stays consistent every time it is told. Not only are audio guides consistent but since they never “call in sick” they are always at the ready to be of service to generate revenue.

5. Audio tours also have the ability to streamline staffing. In these times many institutions may be considering how to do more with less and downturns in revenue can call for decisions to be made about operational expenditures. An audio tour can allow a facility to continue offering enhanced message delivery while also minimizing staffing needs. This doesn’t necessarily imply staff layoffs—it suggests that less tour staff is needed during higher attendance and savings can be made with fewer part-time or seasonal employees.

6. Audio tours offer a great return on investment over time. In many cases a well produced audio tour is still viable 4-5 years after it is originally installed. Many institutions choose to have audio tours for their permanent exhibits that won’t change much over time and add tours for their temporary or seasonal exhibits. In most cases once the audio tour is operational there is usually very little upkeep cost and this allows for a greater return over time: costs are minimized and profits increased as the tour requires no additional resources to remain operational.

7. Audio tours can be used for advertising and promotional sponsors. Additional revenue or sponsorship dollars can be arranged with donors who want their product or service exposed to your visitors. In the case of museum visitors there are many studies that quantify museum attendees as being from better educated and well-off segments of society. An audio tour can accommodate sponsors or advertising when overt sponsorship is not a consideration for an exhibit but sponsorship dollars are desirable.

Hopefully Q Media has shown that even in these lean economic times an audio tour is still a great value addition to any facility.  Besides increasing revenue they also can provide a wonderful one-on-one experience in delivering your message creatively to your visitors.  Much cheaper to produce and install than a typical exhibit, and able to streamline staffing,  audio tours are a great way to increase revenue and update the offering of your facility without large costs.

Please contact Stasha Boyd at stasha@qmediaproductions.com to find out how Q Media can produce and equip your audio tour.

“Quality content” — Just what the heck does that mean?

I wish I could tell you the number of times I’ve heard some version of “What we want is quality content,” “We’re all about quality content,” or the ever popular “Our visitors deserve/demand/expect quality content.” The way the phrase is bandied about you’d think you’d be able to go to your local “content” store and pick up five packages of the “quality” variety.

Stasha at Quivera National Wildlife Refuge while working on the Barton County Scenic Byway Audio Tour. A "quality content" production if there ever was one.

Stasha at Quivera National Wildlife Refuge while working on the Barton County Scenic Byway Audio Tour. A "quality content" production if there ever was one.

The problem is that semantically the phrase “quality content” is meaningless. It’s a subjective judgement call usually based on the opinion of the person making the statement. It should carry the same weight as someone saying “content I like” or “content I don’t like.” It helps to be more specific. Read the rest of this entry »